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Orchestrating The Outreach


By Mark Lange
National Cotton Council

The National Cotton Council continues to ramp up its educational outreach to help time-strapped U.S. cotton producers maximize best management practices (BMPs) for achieving even more efficient, cost effective cotton production systems.

What are the major initiatives?

Last year, the NCC launched a multi-pronged, producer-targeted educational effort. First, we reintroduced the NCC’s Cotton Physiology Today, a newsletter providing in-depth discussion of technical and production issues as the cotton growing season progresses. These electronically-transmitted newsletters and links to previous Physiology Today newsletters are posted on the NCC’s Web site at http://www.cotton.org/tech/index.cfm. At that page, users also can find links that access pertinent articles in the Journal of Cotton Science and in the Beltwide Cotton Conferences’ Proceedings.

The site also contains a link to the BMP publications, “The First Forty Days” and “Fruiting to Finish.” These contain proven strategies for managing practices ranging from variety selection to harvest timing. Next, the NCC promoted the introduction of the new Cotton eXtension Community of Practice, a Web-based cotton information/data delivery platform launched at the 2008 Beltwide Cotton Conferences. It can be found at http://www.extension.org. Cotton eXtension provides an interactive learning environment delivering the best and most complete source of unbiased research-based knowledge from land-grant universities across the Cotton Belt. This new tool will be useful for cooperative Extension educators, agents and specialists to engage producer customers/clients.

Any other 2008 activities planned?

As a follow-up to the first ever Cotton Consultant Conference held at the 2008 Beltwide Cotton Conferences in January, the NCC will conduct consultant/grower training seminars. The primary objective of the meetings, which are receiving support from Bayer CropScience, is to increase consultant and producer awareness of BMPs. The meetings are scheduled for March 17, Ameristar Casino, Vicksburg, Miss.; March 18, Terrace Hotel, Tunica, Miss.; April 1, Moore County Community Building in the Texas Panhandle community of Dumas; and April 2, Reese Conference Center, Lubbock. Details will be announced, but the Mid-South meetings will focus on “The First Forty Days,” with in-depth discussion of variety selection and insect/weed/nematode management. The same topics will be on the Texas agenda with emphasis on “Fruiting to Finish,” including fertility, irrigation management and on fiber quality – particularly as quality is affected by harvest practices, i.e. stripping versus picker harvesting. Continuing education credits (CEUs) will be offered for attendees.

CEUs also will be offered to those who complete Web-based learning modules the NCC is creating. Initially, there will be modules on variety selection, insect management and weed management. Other modules will offer helpful tips on the seasonal periods of: 1) planting to squaring, 2) squaring to flower, 3) flowering to cutout and 4) cutout to harvest. Past issues of the Cotton Physiology Today newsletter also will be placed on this Web site. Other additions likely will include instructional video clips on production practices. Produced by Extension specialists and consultants, the clips would focus on such specifics as how to effectively use a sweep net as part of insect sampling techniques.

Mark Lange is president and chief executive officer for the National Cotton Council of America. He and other NCC leaders contribute columns on this page.

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